i have a '98 camry (V-6), and am ready for a more fun, easier-to-park car. i test drove the mini cooper, S model, automatic, and love it. lots more fun than a camry! but, is it reliable, or will i be in the repair shop too often? should i get a prius, or civic instead? the dilemma of heart v. head. any mini owners out there who could give some insight? thanks!
European car is a rather emotional matter for the owners. I know several people who own Mini or a BMW. When every thing works they are great vehicles and once a week when that happens they will put a smile on your face. When things dont work they cost a lot to fix. It is a heart decision, your heart will tell you to buy a Mini. Head should be telling you to buy something like another Camary, or something more fun but reliable like Infinity G37 Coupe or maybe a G35 Sedan which will put a smile on your face every day. The new Altimas are not bad either, Cadillac CTS??. If you live in the snow country check out Subarus.
When you did a test drive, didn’t you notice how every bump on the road goes directly to your butt? This car has a very stiff suspension, way stiffer than your Camry. Come back and make another test drive, paying attention on what your bottom feels. You might very well consider a number of other possibilities after that
This is not to say Mini S is not a fun car. It is a fun car. Exactly it is a fun car, it is not a daily driver…
Don’t recommend changing from a Camry to a Mini Cooper. It’s like marrying Paris Hilton; some exotic fun, but mostly high upkeep and unpredictable behavior. I suggest a Mazda MX-5 Miata, a Mazda MazdaSpeed 3, a Honda S-2000 or Honda Civic Si. All these are a barrel of fun to drive, compared to your Camry and are just as reliable, and cheap to operate. To change from a Camry to a Mini Cooper would be a traumatic experience if you are used to the trouble-free behavior of a Toyota.
For what it’s worth, Consumer Reports seems to indicate the the Mini Cooper has improved to average in reliability. I have two colleagues who own Mini Coopers and are thrilled with them.
I drove the original version of this car–the Morris 850 (The Austin 850 was the same car). This was during the summer of 1960 and I was home from my first year of college. The DeSoto-Plymouth dealer had taken on the Morris line of automobiles as well as the Chrysler products. My dad had his Dodge serviced by this dealer and had bought cars from him. I had taken my dad’s car in for servicing and the dealer had a Morris 850 in the showroom. The owner of the agency asked me if I would like to take one for a drive. Of course I agreed and I remember being really impressed with the way the Morris 850 drove. The dealer thought this car would be perfect for a college student. Well, it wasn’t perfect for me, because I didn’t have the $1200-1300 that these cars cost at that time–I didn’t have the money to own any car. At the present time, if I didn’t have to tote people and musical instruments around all the time, I would replace my minivan with a Mini Cooper.
I know a couple of folks who use minis as daily drivers and are very happy with them. It depends what you want, if you are looking for the absolute cheapest transportation, buy a honda/toyota. The mini will cost more per mile, and give you more fun per mile, it’s up to you. If you decide on a ricer, avoid the hybrid hype and just buy a civic or something.
There are many fun to drive vehicles that are reliable. Take a peek at a Mazda3 hatch or even Mazdaspeed 3 Even the Scion tC has more kick than a Civic. Take a look at sporty compacts and there are so many choices.
My son has a Mini Cooper S, and he loves it. I think the car is a hoot for about 30-45 minutes, then it becomes a bumpy, noisy car. But that’s just me, and I’m getting old.
The Mini will cost more to maintain, mile per mile, than you are used to with a Camry. Are you willing to spend the money? It’s a BMW product, and the maintenance costs are the same as any other BMW. In other words, “HIGH.” In addition, the Mini Cooper S requires 91-octane premium gasoline at each and every fill-up. Are you willing to feed it what it needs?
If you are not willing to pay these costs, DO NOT buy a Mini Cooper S. If, on the other hand, you are willing to pay for it, by all means, HAVE FUN WITH YOUR NEW MINI.
I enjoy riding with my son in his Mini, and I LOVE it when he lets me drive it, but I would never buy one for myself. Too small, too expensive to maintain, and the premium gas requirement is a deal-breaker for me. I won’t buy a vehicle that requires premium. No way. Not now, not ever.
doc: what an excellent analogy!! I NEVER thought of a car as Paris, but upon reflection it is similar.
Edmunds.com has a feature called True Cost to Own. Repairs over the next 5 years are expected to be $1423 for the Mini vs. $797 for a Civic. No question, the Civic is more reliable. But it might be worth it to you to pay twice as much to repair the Mini as a Civic or Mazda3. Your choice.
That is a good analogy; let me see, paris hilton or aunt bee from mayberry, that is a tough call. I would really have to think about it for a while and check with consumer reports, right.
Yup, you just have to decide if is worth an extra $.34 per day to drive a mini instead of a civic.
You claim you are looking for a fun car, yet you mention a Prius and Civic, 2 of the most boring cars out there. Test drove a new civic and was bored with the ride, and you won’t catch me in a Prius unless I’m a passenger, I’d sooner drop a 572ci into my Chevelle and drive it everyday of the year.
Nowadays a car is only as reliable as the owner keeps it. If you flog the crap out of a car from the moment it leaves the factory and change the oil or transmission fluid “whenever”, it’s going to become very unreliable, no matter what badge is on the car.
i have a feeling my head is going to rule my heart, once again. if i could afford 2 cars (!), would get a mini and a civic and just drive the mini for fun. will also take a look at the mazda 3 to see if it’s feasible to marry reliability with fun. thanks to all posters for their input!
Enjoy your test drives and let us know what you chose and why. It’s nice to get feedback from our friends buying cars.
I didn’t feel the Mazda 3 OR the 6 sedans were all that good. the 3 felt cramped and the seat didn’t move back far enough for my legs, and my head touched the ceiling of the 6 with a moonroof, I had more headroom in a miata. And that was just sitting in them in the showroom, no test drive. The Miata, however, would have been an impulse buy if I didn’t have my Chevelle, from the test drive I took.
If you are considering a Civic, make it a Civic Si. It’s a good compromise between the base Civic and a Mini. However, you will have to learn how to drive a stick. The Si is a driver’s car and only comes with a six speed manual.
The Acura TSX is very good. If you are willing to go with a used car, the RSX, which was last made in 2006, is another good choice. Both models are/were available with automatic transmissions.
Although they used to make some interesting cars, Toyota has become another way to spell boring. Ditto for their upscale Lexus line.
Bwaaaahahahah! Good one, Craig58. I would say it’s more like the difference between an above-average girl and a coma victim (no offense to any coma victims out there…)
I have a mini s my first mini was a 05 after two years I had a problem they were unabe to fix BMW gave me a new 07 I upgraded to a convertable for $4,000. I love the car the only problem is during the summer is to get it away from my wife. PS I am 67 years old I also have a Volvo Wagon.
do you have the manual or automatic mini? is it in the shop alot? i have some highway and alot of city driving, so was worried i’d get sick of constantly shifting gears w/a manual. it sounds as if you got a nice deal if they replaced your old one with an 07. i test drove a civic, and it felt like a tin can compared to the camry V6 (although i don’t what i was expecting as it is smaller). i’ve also since heard negative things about the mazda 3. sheesh, i’ll probably stick with the '98 camry at this rate as i’m apparently racked by indecision!